On the heels of another successful Space Parts Working Group (SPWG) event, where experts from the aerospace and defense (A&D) domain convene annually to compare notes on new developments in hi-rel components for space applications, we thought it an appropriate time to reflect on some of the trends that have affected this close-knit community through the years – a community that MACOM has been proud to partner with for over five decades.
Fifty years ago, the A&D domain pioneered many of the breakthrough technologies that we take for granted today in the commercial marketplace – radios, mobile phones, satellite communications, etc. Initially developed for military and space exploration applications, these technologies were made possible by new classes of hi-rel components that were scrutinized and standardized to ensure the highest possible levels of reliability and quality. Reducing risk of component failure was essential, as mission success hung in the balance.
But in time, these technologies were adapted for use by everyday consumers, lower cost solutions were needed, and many of the component suppliers that helped enable these advanced technologies turned their attention away from the A&D domain in favor of servicing the more lucrative mass market. This eventually led to a dearth of component suppliers with the interest and/or wherewithal to perform the resource-intensive process development, process control, screening and testing required for space hi-rel components, leaving A&D engineers with fewer and fewer options for sourcing these parts.
A NEW CHAPTER
With the resurgence of commercial spaceflight and proliferation of small satellites (smallsats), commercial-grade products are being considered for many missions. However, components with process controls and screening will become increasingly attractive to the commercial satellite domain, and the volume of product needed will make discussions on tailored approaches attractive to both the component user and manufacturer. To be sure, commercial-caliber components will continue to be used in smallsats targeted for short lifespan, low-risk deployments. And on the flipside, the design teams developing half billion dollar ‘big box’ satellites aren’t going to be using cell phone-grade, limited screening parts anytime soon. But as the A&D and commercial domains’ respective interests in hi-rel components begin to converge – we anticipate an exciting new phase in the long history of hi-rel components.
MACOM has been honored to contribute our technology and expertise to the A&D community through the years, and will proudly support any spaceflight endeavor – government or commercial – that expands our knowledge of the universe, and/or improves the quality and safety of life on earth. To this end, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing hi-rel components that meet the highest standards of reliability and quality.
We invite you to learn more about MACOM’s portfolio of hi-rel, JAN-certified components, and our accreditation by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a Category 1A Trusted Foundry, conferred to microelectronics vendors exhibiting the highest levels of process integrity and protection.
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